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If you’ve been following along to learn the Bokhara couching stitch and the Roumanian couching stitch, another “couch-as-you-go” embroidery couching technique you will want to learn is the Klosterstitch.

Also known as the convent stitch, this method of couching was frequently seen in church tapestries and cloths.

German 17th Century Embroidery Tapestry
German Religious Tapestry from the 17th century, MOMA

These three couching technique names are often used interchangeably because the stitches are all a couching stitch using only one thread, but I think it is important to note that each one is distinctly different!

In Klosterstitch, we are basically combining the two techniques of Bokhara and Roumanian for a single thread couching technique that is nearly invisible when it is worked.

Note that this klosterstitch should not be confused with the kloster stitch used in Hardanger embroidery – they share the same name but are different methods!

The primary difference from the other single thread couch-as-you-go methods and this one is that in Klosterstitch, we will want to pay extra attention to the twist of our threads, and we will want to take extra care to make sure our couching stitches are never in the same place. This will help them be less noticeable.

As we talked about in our post on the basics of couching embroidery techniques, you can either use couching techniques for beautiful, visible stitches and add depth – or you can use them to be practically invisible in your work. This is one of the best “invisible” couching methods you could use!

About the Klosterstitch

Klosterstitch gets its name from the German word kloster, which translates into English as monastery.

This stitch was commonly seen in tapestries in convents and monasteries throughout the Germanic and Eastern European regions and is believed to have originated sometime in the 14th century, although many of these works have not survived to the present day.

The kloster stitch is similar to the Roumanian and Bokhara stitches as it is worked with just one needle and one thread.

The method for all three of these often-confused-with-one-another stitches are the same – but the distinct placement of where the couching threads go makes all the difference in whether the stitches are visible.

Klosterstitch Couching Technique

In Klosterstitch couching, we will want to work vertically in an up and down manner rather than a horizontal manner like we do for the Bokhara or Roumanian couching techniques.

Working in this direction will help make it easier not only to hide the stitches, but will also help make it a lot easier to identify the direction of the twist in your thread, which helps you to better hide the couching stitches.

Since twist is something to pay attention to in this stitch, you will want to look closely at the twist of the thread. Most threads are either an S-Twist or a Z-twist, and the letter S or Z just shows you what direction the twist runs.

One of the things that is very important is that you begin your couching stitch to go in the same direction of the twist of the thread.

So, if you have an S twist thread, you will want to make your first couching thread from the left of the laid thread. If you have a Z-twist thread, you will want to make your couching stitches from the right of your laid line.

Each couching stitch should be at an angle and it’s also important that they are loosely worked – if you pull them too tight or have too tight of tension, you will find that your couching stitches are too noticeable.

How to Do The Klosterstitch Step By Step

  1. Starting at the bottom of your work, make a long straight stitch with your thread towards the top. This is the thread you will be couching on.
  2. Bring your needle to the side of the thread that corresponds with the twist and make a very small, loose, angled stitch around the laid stitch from step 1. Take care to not pull it too tight – otherwise it will be more noticeable.
  3. Continue these couching threads for as much as you need to secure the laid thread in place – usually this will be 2-3 but depends on the design + size of the area.
  4. When you come to the end of your first stitch, begin a new stitch as you did in step #1 to the right of it, taking care to get it as close to the first thread as possible.
  5. Work your way down the thread again with couching stitches as done in step #2, but make sure that your couching stitches are not touching and are spaced apart enough that they don’t create any visible pattern.
  6. Continue this method over and over again until you’ve covered the space desired, taking care to keep your stitches hidden and not using too much or too little tension that they either stick out on top (too loose!) or that they draw the laid thread down (too tight!)

The Klosterstitch is a great technique to use as a fill stitch when you want to cover a large area and be super efficient on your thread. It’s a great economical choice and definitely one to learn and keep in your bag of tricks!

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